The Redistricting Game

With the 2008 elections fast approaching, as with every election, the faults of our political system are ever the more apparent. The Redistricting Game, courtesy of the University of Southern California EA Game Innovation Lab, looks at the shifty yet common practice of gerrrymandering.

According to the website, redistricting “is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.” Basically, politicians get frisky and change the borders of voting districts in order to make elections easier.

I’ve been holding onto a YouTube clip from on the USC project for a while now. It’s a profile of the game, with an interview with Chris Swain, the director of the project. He says, “We want to stretch conventional wisdom about what games are and what games can be.” Swain describes redistricting as a “dark corner in American democracy,” and also says that like games, redistricting operates in a rules-based system.

In the game, the player must choose a party and redraw the map to meet the goals of a particular scenario. And just for playing, you even get a “button” featuring one of the game’s wacky politicians. I’m currently “keepin’ it old school” with Geri Atrix.

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